Wonga unveils ’12 portraits’ film clips in PR drive to counter critics

Wonga has launched a PR offensive in an attempt to offset the deluge of negative headlines that will follow the grilling it and its peers will receive when they appear in front of MPs this morning (5 November). 


The market leader has unveiled a series of short-films, dubbed “12 portraits”, by Bafta-nomimated director Gary Tarn. The clips feature profiles of Wonga customers but do not include any branding until the final frame. Instead, those profiled talk about elements of their lives that required a Wonga loan.

One, Gareth, explains how he and his wife are expecting a baby. Elsewhere, a Ghanaian immigrant called Anita talks about a course in cookery she completed (see above and below).

The films are released on the same day as Wonga and payday lenders including Mr Lender and QuickQuid appear in front of MPs on the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee.

The lenders will face criticism from the MPs, consumer groups and charities likely to question the interest rates charged to those that default and the lack of transparency in their advertising.

Wonga and others in the sector have come under increased scrutiny this year from regulators.  City watchdog The Financial Conduct Authority is to force lenders to include a risk warning on advertisements, one of a raft of new rules announced last month, while the Office of Fair Trading announced a series of proposals to govern the sector in March. 

As part of this week’s PR drive, Wonga’s chief operating officer Niall Wass has been taking part in a series of interviews to promote “12 portraits” and argue the negative publicity does not match its customers’ experience.

He told BBC’s News Night yesterday: “The ‘12 portraits’ are an attempt to dispel myths. The 12 portraits represent 1 million active customers……The silent majority’s voice has not been heard.”

He added: “Every week I look at our feedback and we get an extremely positive reaction from customers but commentators and the media pick out negative stories. We show [terms and conditions] as clearly and transparently as we can and the fact 98 per cent of customers would recommend us is evidence we are doing something right.”

His comments were echoed in a recent report for the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, which found consumers liked Wonga’s “light-hearted” and “ubiquitous” marketing efforts.




The ticking timebomb that is native advertising

Ronan Shields

As we come to the close of the year, we journalists often turn our minds to drafting pieces on ‘the year that was’ and ‘what will be hot in the next 12 months’ and I’d say that native advertising fits in both slots. And it won’t necessarily be all good news stories. 


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